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28 Aug 2014, Jane H

snorkelling, red sea, Maldives, bonaire, Grenada, mexico

Snorkelling is the perfect introduction to the wonders of the underwater world. All you need is a mask, a snorkel and a pair of fins and you can instantly be at one with the fishes.

Contrary to what you might think, a lot of the action underwater happens close to the surface so you won’t necessarily miss out by not diving. Sharks, dolphins, turtles and colourful reef fish can be just as easily seen when snorkelling and even divers wanting to see whale sharks and dugongs resort to their trusty snorkel for these incredible encounters.

Snorkelling is also a great way to build confidence in the water which makes it a perfect activity for all the family, young or old, to enjoy on holiday. So whether you’re interested in trying out snorkelling as a first step to diving, or just want to give snorkelling a go, dip into our guide to the top five Regaldive destinations for snorkelling around the world.

Red Sea (Egypt)

Egypt offers a truly unforgettable experience above and below the water. Visitors cannot fail to be seduced by the unique combination of historical and cultural treasures, and the outstanding underwater scenery and marine life. Egypt’s Red Sea offers some of the finest coral reefs and ship wrecks to explore on the planet. It’s also the ideal destination for UK holidaymakers with just five hours flying time, excellent value for money, and year round sunshine and crystal clear warm waters.

Snorkellers should choose their Red Sea resort carefully to get the most out of their holiday here. Look for a resort with a house reef so that you can snorkel just off the beach and opt for boat trips further afield if you wish. Most of the resorts that stretch down the coastline from Hurghada all the way to Hamata in the deep south of Egypt, offer excellent fringing reefs and plenty of incredible snorkelling opportunities directly from the shore, including Soma Bay, Safaga, El Quseir and Marsa Alam. Similarly on the Sinai Peninsula, Dahab and Nuweiba are well-known for their stunning reefs.

Seven nights’ at the Breakers Diving and Surfing Lodge in Soma Bay, Red Sea cost from £527 per person to include flights, transfers and seven nights’ half board accommodation. This hotel has been specially designed for watersports fans and guests can make full use of the hotel’s spectacular location right on the water’s edge. Here, an incredible turquoise lagoon and one of the most beautiful stretches of house reef along the Egyptian coast lay just metres from your hotel room.

Grenada and Carriacou

Get a taste of the Caribbean on the Spice Island of Grenada and enjoy the contrast of beautiful white beaches, rugged mountains and lush rainforests. Underwater, Grenada is also stunningly diverse and attracts many divers who want to explore its unique combination of renowned wrecks and exceptional coral gardens.

Although most sites on Grenada are accessible only by boat, many of Grenada’s prettiest reefs are shallow and perfect for snorkelling. The nutrient rich Guyana current combined with Grenada’s volcanic origins has resulted in an exceptionally healthy and varied reef system that has few equals in the Caribbean. Another highlight, albeit a man-made one, is the Underwater Sculpture Park at Moliniere Reef which features an astounding array of human statues, modelled on real people by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, all at a maximum depth of 10m.

Seven nights’ at the Flamboyant Hotel, Grenada cost from £1,117 per person to include flights, transfers and seven nights’ room only accommodation. Snorkellers should also consider twinning their stay on Grenada with a few days on the smaller neighbouring island of Carriacou. This so-called ‘Land of Reefs’ offers a wealth of incredible reefs to discover and an ultra-relaxed and laidback vibe.

Mexico

The Caribbean coast of Mexico offers the complete holiday package with miles of white sand beaches, an array of cultural attractions and one of the most well-developed tourist infrastructures around. Underwater, the Yucatan Peninsula sits at the very tip of the world’s second largest barrier reef. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches south for over 1000kms, and is considered unique in terms of both its vast length, and its stunning biodiversity.

Snorkelling (and diving) is big business in Mexico. There is a wealth of organised snorkelling excursions on offer and many visitors also like to grab their kit and snorkel directly off the beach to spot fish. If you’re serious about your snorkelling, you’ll want to go out to the main reefs by boat or secure a spot on one of the many special trips. From June to September, a whale shark safari is highly recommended and offers the once in a lifetime opportunity to snorkel with these gentle giants of the ocean alongside manta rays, turtles and dolphins.

Visitors to Mexico also have the chance to visit the world famous Cenotes. The chance to explore this incredible submerged limestone cavern system is the reason so many divers head to this part of Mexico but snorkellers are also well catered for. Float in clear fresh water with up to 50m visibility amongst amazing formations of stalagmites and stalactites, bathed in shafts of light filtering through the jungle canopy above.

Seven nights’ at the Allegro Playacar Resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya cost from £1,199 per person to include flights, transfers and seven nights’ all inclusive accommodation. Regaldive also offer packages on the island of Cozumel, home to the world class reefs so revered by Jacques Cousteau.

Bonaire

It would be hard to think of a more complete diving and snorkelling destination than the Southern Caribbean destination of Bonaire. Even the car licence plates proclaim this ‘Diver’s Paradise’. Bonaire’s low-lying geography means that the reef drop-off is close to the coastline making shore diving the norm here. This is great news for snorkellers who can truly maximise their time in the water at over 90 sites, the majority of which are almost exclusively accessible from the shore.

Home to the Caribbean’s first protected Marine Park, Bonaire’s warm and nutrient-rich waters boast an outstanding marine diversity with more than 300 different fish species. The lack of rain has also led to an impressive underwater visibility which regularly exceeds 30 metres and is particularly excellent for photography. The fringing reef lies close to the shore at usually no more than 10 metres depth, just brimming with marine life. Seahorses, the island’s emblem, thrive in Bonaire’s waters, alongside the elusive frogfish.

Seven nights’ at the Buddy Dive Resort on Bonaire cost from £1,427 per person to include flights, transfers and seven nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation. Bonaire is known as the home of diving freedom and most visitors hire a vehicle to dive and snorkel at their own pace.

Maldives

Picture postcard pretty the islands of the Maldives are the image of most holidaymakers’ perfect getaway. If your idea of holiday heaven is trickling powder soft sand through your toes, then the Maldives will definitely meet your needs but venture beneath the surface, and you’ll discover one of the most exciting and exhilarating diving destinations on the planet.

The relative isolation of the Maldives has led to a fabulous variety of marine species. Seasonal oceanic currents forge channels of plankton rich waters into and out of the atolls, attracting many pelagics like mantas, sharks and whale sharks. There’s also plentiful smaller fish amidst the beautiful coral gardens and picturesque, sheltered lagoons. Snorkellers should opt for an island with a house reef to get the most out of their holiday. The islands of Angaga, Ellaidhoo, Eriyadu, Thulhagiri and Vilamendhoo are pretty much all encircled by excellent house reefs and are geared up to the needs of snorkellers as well as divers.  In particular, Vilamendhoo Island, located in south Ari Atoll close to the Maldivian Whale Shark National Park, offers one of the largest accessible house reefs in the Maldives and both whale sharks and mantas are often spotted here.

Seven nights’ at the Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa in the Maldives cost from £1,709 per person to include flights, transfers and seven nights’ full board accommodation. The resort is the only accommodation on the family-friendly island of Vilamendhoo, which is easily accessible from Male International Airport by a scenic, 25 minute seaplane flight.

For more information about snorkelling holidays, please call the Regaldive Team on 01353 659 999 and we will be happy to help you choose the right destination for you.

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